|Publication number||US6893316 B2|
|Application number||US 10/431,585|
|Publication date||May 17, 2005|
|Filing date||May 8, 2003|
|Priority date||May 8, 2003|
|Also published as||CA2431088A1, CA2431088C, US20040259466|
|Publication number||10431585, 431585, US 6893316 B2, US 6893316B2, US-B2-6893316, US6893316 B2, US6893316B2|
|Inventors||Matthew C. Maxwell, Jeffrey A. Brown, Anthony A. Morley|
|Original Assignee||Mattel, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (47), Referenced by (16), Classifications (5), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention relates generally to toy items, and more particularly to toy blocks that interact with other toy blocks.
Toy blocks are generally known. Toy blocks may provide a user with entertainment and have educational value. A user may stack or otherwise assemble toy blocks and the blocks may have letters, numbers or other educational figures located thereon.
The need exists for toy blocks that provide mechanical interaction between blocks when the blocks are stacked or otherwise connected. Also, a need exists for a drive mechanism for driving a number of drives with a single actuator when a number of toys are stacked or otherwise connected.
A toy item, which may be a toy block, has an activity member or other movable entertainment device that can be actuated by a drive internal to the toy item. A drive input disposed on or within the block can be actuated by a user to operate the drive and actuate the activity member is activated, providing entertainment for a user. The toy item includes a drive output coupled to the drive and is configured so that a substantially similar toy item can cooperate with the toy item so that when the drive input of one toy item is actuated, the drive output of the toy item in turn actuates the drive input of the other toy item.
The invention includes at least one toy item, and may include multiple toy items that may interact with one another. In one embodiment, the toy items are toy blocks. The toy blocks include an input device which permits mechanical energy to be transferred from one toy block to another toy block to produce output at via an activity member on each of the respective items simultaneously.
The functionality of two similar toy items incorporating the principles of the invention is illustrated schematically in FIG. 1. Two toy items, 100 and 110, are shown in FIG. 1. Each of toy item 100 and toy item 110 has a body to which is mounted, or within which is contained, a drive input, a drive mechanism, one or more driven and non-driven activity members, and a drive output. The drive output of one toy item can interact with the drive input of the other toy item.
Toy item 100 thus includes a body 102. A drive 103 is mounted within body 102. A drive input 101 is mounted to body 102 so as to be accessible from outside body 102 and is operably coupled to drive 103. A user (or another toy item, as explained below) can apply an input force to drive input 101, which in turn initiates operation of drive 103. Toy item 100 also includes a driven activity member 105, mounted in or to body 102 and operably coupled to drive 103. Toy item 100 may also include one or more additional non-driven activity members 104, which are not coupled to drive 103 and which therefore are separately activated, such as by application of force directly by a user. Toy item 100 also includes a drive output 106, mounted to body 102 so as to be accessible from outside body 102 and operably coupled to drive 103.
Application of a force to drive input 101 activates drive 103, which in turn activates driven activity member 105 and drive output 106.
Toy item 110 has structure similar to toy item 100, and thus includes a body 112, a drive 113, a driven activity member 115, a non-driven activity member 114, and a drive output 116. Toy item 110 also operates similarly to toy item 100—application of a force to drive input 111 activates drive 113, which in turn activates driven activity member 115 and drive output 116.
Toy items 100 and 110 can interoperate, so that activation of the drive of one of the toy items can in turn activate the drive of the other toy item. Thus, the drive output of each toy item is configured to cooperate with the drive input of the other (or any other similarly-configured) toy item so that the force applied to the drive input of one toy item is transmitted (at least in part) via the drive and drive output to the drive input of the other toy item.
Several embodiments of toy items embodying the principles of the invention illustrated schematically above are described below.
Toy item 300 is described and illustrated below in more detail below with reference to
Drive 303 and its interaction with drive input 301, drive output 307, and driven activity member 305, are illustrated in
In the disclosed embodiment, drive 303 includes a drive plate 331, a guide structure 335, a drive post 350, an activity member drive 340, and a biasing member 360, such as a spring. Drive plate 331 is a generally flat plate, with a coupling on its upper side to receive drive input 301. Guide structure 335 includes a set of bosses 336 depending from the upper portion of body 302, a guide plate 337 coupled to the lower ends of bosses 336, and a guide tube 338 that depends downwardly from guide plate 337. Drive post 350 is mounted to (or formed integrally with) drive plate 331 and projects downwardly through guide tube 338. The edges of drive plate 331 also engage the sides of bosses 336 when the drive plate 331 slides relative to the guide structure 335. Guide structure 335 thus functions to constrain guide the vertical, reciprocal motion of drive 303 along a linear range of motion between an upper, rest, or non-activated position “U” (shown in
Drive output 307 is formed by the lower end of drive post 350. As shown in
The activity member drive 340 includes a rack 341 depending from an extension of drive plate 331, a circular gear 342, an axle 343, and a positioner 344. Gear 342 is positioned on axle 343, which is mounted for rotation with respect to body 302. When drive 303 is in the non-activated position “U”, as depicted in
When the drive 303 is in activated position “L”, spring 360 biases the drive plate 331 away from guide plate 337, and thus biases drive 303 towards the non-activated position “U.” When force “F” is removed from drive input 301, drive 303 is urged back towards position “U,” rotating gear 342 and thus axle 343. As rack 341 disengages the gear 342, gear 342 and axle 343 continue to rotate.
In this embodiment of toy item 300, driven activity member 305 is a disk with a clear dome enclosing an inner, mirrored, and dimpled dome, with colored balls disposed in the dimples of the inner dome. The disk is attached to axle 343 to rotate with respect to body 302.
As illustrated in
In the illustrated embodiment, drive input 301 is generally hemispherical in shape, and protrudes a distance “h” from upper face 306 e of body 302 when in the upper, non-activated position and has a diameter “d.” Recess 309 in bottom face 306 f of body 302 is also generally hemispherical in shape and has a diameter slightly larger than “d” and a height slightly greater than “h.” Thus, recess 309 can accommodate a drive input of another toy item of the same size of drive input 301. The upper and lower faces 306 e and 306 f, and the drive input 301 and drive output 306 are thus complementary to each other, in that identical toy items can be stacked atop each other with the drive output of one toy item engageable with, and able to actuate, the drive input of the other toy item.
Another embodiment of a toy item incorporating the principles of the invention, toy item 200, is illustrated in
Toy item 200 includes a driven activity member 205 that includes a cylindrical drum 205 a that rotates with respect to the body 202 of the toy item 200 about an axis parallel to a side face of toy item 200 (whereas the disk of driven activity member 305 rotates about an axis perpendicular to a side face of toy item 300). Activity member drive 240 includes a rack 241 depending from drive plate 231 and a circular gear 242 mounted to an axle 243, which is journaled in body 202. Drum 205 a is fixed to axle 243 to rotate therewith.
Similar in operation to toy item 300, a spring 260 biases drive plate 231 towards an upper or non-activated position “U”. When the drive input 201 is depressed, rack 241 engages gear 242. When the force is removed from the drive input 201, a translational motion is imparted to the activity member 205, as the drive plate is biased back into position “U”.
There are different ways that a user can activate any of the toy items 200, 300, 400. A user may apply on input force “F” directly to a drive input (201, 301, 401) to activate the drive and thus the driven activity member. Alternatively, a user may, for example as shown in
The user could further stack one or more additional toy items onto toy item 300, with each toy item's recess disposed to accommodate another toy items' drive input. All of the stacked toy items can then be activated by application of force “F” to the drive input of the uppermost toy item.
Numerous variations on the structure and operation of the toy items disclosed above are possible. In the embodiments above, the driven activity members are driven to continuous rotational motion by the toy items' drives. A driven activity member could instead be driven to reciprocating or otherwise discontinuous rotational motion and/or to translational motion about or along one or more axes. The artisan could readily select appropriate drive train components for the toy item's drive to produce the desired motion of the driven activity member.
In the illustrated embodiments, the toy items' drives translate along an axis perpendicular to parallel faces of the cubic toy item, i.e. the drive has linear motion in which a rigid drive component (e.g. drive post 350) is guided by a linear guide, with the drive input and the drive input on opposite faces. Alternatively, a drive output could be located on a face that is not parallel to the face on which the drive input is located. This could be accomplished by any suitable mechanism readily selected by the artisan, including an arcuate guide that guides a flexible drive post, or through appropriate gearing or other drive components.
In the illustrated embodiments, each toy item includes a single driven activity member. Of course, two or more driven activity members could be disposed on or in the toy item's body and coupled to the drive.
In the illustrated embodiment, the drive of each toy item is activated by application of a force pushing inwardly toward the body of the toy item. Alternatively, the drive could be activated by a force pulling outwardly from the toy item (and the drive could be biased inwardly to a non-activated position in which the drive input does not protrude from the surface of the body). Drive input would be configured suitably, e.g. with a hook or other readily-grasped shape, rather than the hemispherical shape disclosed above. The drive output could be configured to engage appropriately with the drive input, e.g. a mating hook, a loop, etc., so that when two toy items are stacked or otherwise place in operative engagement, the drive input of one toy item is engaged with the drive output of the other toy item.
In the illustrated embodiments the toy items do not couple together—a toy item can just be rested atop another toy item. Alternatively, any of a number of known coupling mechanisms could be used to engage one toy item to another, by the surfaces of their bodies and/or by their respective drive input and drive output.
In the illustrated embodiments, hemi-spherical recesses and drive inputs are disclosed. Alternatively, they may be of any shape, including pyramidal, cubic, or any other geometrical configuration.
In the illustrated embodiments, the bodies of the toy items are cubic. Alternatively, the toy items may be of any geometrical shape, such as pyramidal, trapezoidal, rectangular, spherical or any number of other non-geometrical shapes.
The various features of the invention have been described in relation to a toy item. However, it will be appreciated that many of the features, such as the drive, activity member, and the body may also be implemented in various other configurations. Moreover, variations and modifications exist that would not depart from the scope of the invention. A number of these variations have been set forth above.
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|U.S. Classification||446/103, 446/246|
|Oct 1, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MATTEL, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MAXWELL, MATTHEW C.;BROWN, JEFFREY A.;MORLEY, ANTHONY A.;REEL/FRAME:014020/0894;SIGNING DATES FROM 20030726 TO 20030821
|Oct 17, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Nov 19, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8